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Safe & sound

While IWF 2008 put the spotlight on innovative machinery, there were dozens of exhibitors touting safety, including products that prevent loss of hearing, injury to the eye and damage to the lungs.

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For example, the booth of Trend Routing Technology featured the company’s Airshield Pro face shield, which protects woodworkers from inhaling harmful dust with its twin filters and a built-in fan that circulates a constant flow of filtered clean air. Featuring a replaceable polycarbonate flip-up visor, it also protects the face from flying debris. The Airshield Pro is supplied with two filters and a battery charger, and is priced from $399.

“What price do you put on your health?” asks Paul Bailey, marketing manager for Trend. “Investing in a face shield may seem a costly extravagance, but with a filter efficiency of 98 percent now available, the machining of MDF now becomes a pleasure, rather than a chore.”

Ever wonder how much noise is produced in your shop? Etymotic Research presented the ER-200 Personal Noise Dosimeter that measures sound levels over several hours and calculates cumulative noise exposure. The portable device sells for about $100.

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“The Etymotic Personal Noise Dosimeter takes the guesswork out of protecting your hearing,” says Mead Killion, founder and president of Etymotic Research. “Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, but most people do not know how long they can listen to loud sounds without risking damage to their hearing. Over time, damage to the inner ear from noise adds up and can result in permanent damage.

“In most cases, the accumulation of too much noise day by day, year after year, is what leads to hearing loss. A person’s daily noise dose is determined by both the intensity of the sound and the amount of exposure time. While a sound-level meter measures noise at a particular point in time, a dosimeter measures sound over the course of many hours and calculates the cumulative noise dose.”

Aearo Technologies, a 3M company, presented the Swerve Banded Hearing Protector, which blends ergonomics with performance for stylish, yet effective banded hearing protection. A streamlined design helps eliminate contact with collars and headgear so the band stays in place. The adjustable band slides forward and back for custom neck and ear positioning, and is flexible for frequent on-and-off wearing. Various tips are available for that custom-comfort fit inside the ear opening.

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The Duluth Trading Co. presented Sunrise Safety Glasses for protection indoor and out. The glasses are photochromic, which means they are clear when you’re inside and turn dark when you’re outside to cut the glare and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. The glasses also feature rugged wire frames and shatterproof polycarbonate lenses.

A better bandage was also touted. The KytoStat, from HemCon Bandages, is a bandage of naturally occurring chitosan that controls bleeding and is proven to be 30 times more effective than other blood-stopping technologies, according to the company.

Shop organization
IWF 2008 also featured shop organization products, including Wall Control’s wall-mounted shelf and storage system, which is basically an alternative to traditional pegboard. It features strong, steel panels and a durable powder-coated finish offered in a variety of colors. A complete line of hooks, brackets, shelves and accessories are available for a custom shelving setup.

Goff Enterprises presented Industrial Curtain Walls, which create a retractable barrier that can be drawn in seconds to provide space alternatives. These versatile means of room separation, constructed with industrial vinyl, confine flying debris and protect sprayed coatings. Available in various sizes, the curtains are easy to attach to one another via 2" industrial Velcro fasteners placed in two 1-foot sections on each outer vertical edge. A zinc-plated chain is sewn into the bottom edge for additional weight.

“With so many production facilities seeking to make their buildings more flexible, these curtains give them a variety of options,” says company president Tony Goff.

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Lights and more
In the lighting category, SandMan Products introduced the Sand Pro inspection light series to allow woodworkers to see their work better in dimly lit shops, and also to see scratches, swirl marks, and other imperfections in furniture and cabinetry before the material is finished. The light features welded diamond-plate construction for durability, and mounts securely on an adjustable tripod stand.

For protecting valuable machinery tables, Modern Workbench Products showed its TOOLClad magnetic covers for table, scroll and band saws, which primarily provide protection from moisture buildup and rust. The covers feature white plastic lamination and are ideal for glue-ups, as any spilled glue can be easily wiped off. The covers also feature handy reference information, which includes dovetail angles, a grid pattern, rulers, a protractor, geometry information, a conversion chart, a decimal equivalent table, a wood hardness table, a multiplication table, and a pilot-hole guide. They also offer easy notetaking using a dry-erase pen.

Magswitch showed its MagFence Universal Work Support System designed to give woodworkers greater work piece support, precision and control when using various machines. It enhances existing factory safety devices on machines and provides greater safety and control when these devices cannot be used, according to the company.

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The system works on the Magswitch Universal Base, which allows users to save money by investing in one base and multiple attachments. Two Magjigs magnetically hold attachments for the base, two of which include the dual roller guide and the single roller resaw guide. The dual roller guide is designed for support over tall work pieces and features dual ball bearings that can be repositioned for work on shorter pieces. Ideal applications include supporting tall panels for raised panel cuts on the table saw, edge joining on the joiner/planer, and resawing on a bandsaw.

DeWalt presented its Site-Pro Modular Guarding System, an adjustable, tool-free guard system for table saws that provides increased visibility for safety on all portable DeWalt table saws. The system includes a rise and fall riving knife, anti-kickback pawls and top guard. This tool-free, adjustable guard system provides contractors with an easy-to-use blade guard that offers a clear line of sight when making cuts, and minimizes installation and removal of guard components to 30 seconds or less, according to DeWalt.

Duluth’s booth also featured durable clothing designed specifically for woodworkers to move freely throughout the shop. The company is continually updating its Freedom of Movement shirts featuring armpit gussets, bi-swing backs and extra shirt length that provide maximum flexibility to workers, says product manager Ricker Schlecht.

Duluth also presented many new styles of pants, aprons and bibs. All have multiple compartments and pockets. To meet the demand for durability, many of the products are made of fire hose material, a canvas-like soft fabric designed to resist snags, rips, tears and abrasions. For a lighter pant material, Duluth offers nylon work pants that are tear- and abrasion-resistant. They are great for indoor work, and jobs that require extra mobility and flexibility, adds Schlecht.

Duluth’s Fire Hose Apron offers plenty of tool storage and has suspenders that stretch when you bend, reach and kneel. There are two deep pockets on each side, and the lower right hand one has a magnetic nail/screw bar for quick access to fasteners. Duluth also offers a Hold Everything pouch, made of fire hose and leather, to carry essential hand tools, including a cell phone.

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For the hands, Mechanix Wear offers a Utility Glove that has unlimited shop uses. The glove features a two-way, form-fitting stretch Spandex top, Lycra panels between the fingers for ventilation and added dexterity, and reinforced Dura-Fit synthetic leather thumb, index and middle fingertips for improved strength and protection.

And don’t forget the feet. Mark Cirino, product specialist for Gore-Tex work boots of W.L. Gore & Assoc., says investing in a comfortable and durable pair of work boots is like investing in a high-quality tool.

“Feet are among the most abused, neglected and sweaty body parts,” says Cirino. “Each foot perspires roughly 1/4-cup of moisture a day while at rest and up to one full cup during activity. Soggy, hot feet are an unnecessary distraction on the job site.”

Cirino says Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable linings go into numerous brands of work boots including Danner, Red Wing, Rocky and Wolverine. For the woodworker, he recommends the Wolverine DuraShocks or the Danner GTX Hiker, both of which are available with steel toe options, and are comfortable, yet versatile shoes that provide stability and traction.


  • Aearo Co., 5457 W. 79th St., Indianapolis, IN 46268. Tel: 317-692-6666.
  • DeWalt, 626 Hanover Pike, Hampstead, MD 21074, Tel: 800-433-9258.
  • Duluth Trading Co., P.O. Box 409, 170 Countryside Dr., Belleville, WI 53508. Tel: 800-505-8888.
  • Etymotic Research Inc., 61 Martin Lane, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Tel: 888-389-6684.
  • Goff Enterprises Inc., 1228 Hickory St., Peweaukee, WI 53072. Tel: 800-234-0337.
  • HemCon Medical Technologies Inc., 10575 S.W. Cascade Ave., Suite 130, Portland, OR 97223-4363. Tel: 877-247-0196.
  • Magswitch Technology Inc., 621 Southpark Dr., Unit 1900, Littleton, CO 80120. Tel: 303-468-0662.
  • Mechanix Wear Inc., 28525 Witherspoon Pkwy., Valencia, CA 91355. Tel: 800-222-4296.
  • Modern Workbench Products, 515 N.W. Saltzman Road No. 908, Portland, OR 97229. Tel: 888-243-9401.
  • SandMan Products LLC. Tel: 800-265-2008.
  • 3M Occupational Health & Environmental Safety, 3M Center Building 235-02-W-70, St. Paul, MN 55144-1000. Tel: 800-328-1667.
  • Trend Routing Technology Inc., 438 Foxhunt Dr., Walton, KY 41094. Tel: 270-872-4674.
  • Wall Control, P.O. Box 42, Tucker, GA 30085. Tel: 770-723-1251.
  • W.L. Gore (Gortex), 295 Blue Ball Road, Elkton, MD 21921. Tel: 800-467-3839.

Staying safe requires ‘sense’ Bill Jameson, formerly with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, says proper shop safety starts with protecting the body’s five senses. “The most critical personal protective equipment are safety glasses, appropriate shirt and pants to protect the skin from solvents, and proper respiratory protection for particulates from sanding and vapors from solvents and finishing materials. “Specific critical health hazards include inhalation exposure to wood dust from the finish sanding of wood. Chronic exposure to wood dust is a known human carcinogen and has been shown to cause lung cancer in woodworkers. This is especially important if you are also a smoker, as the risk for lung cancer increases with additional wood dust exposure.” Ergonomic factors are also important safety concerns, adds Jameson. Floor mats, knee pads or other apparel that is comfortable will help a woodworker in the long run. “Anything one can do to decrease continuous stress on joints, nerves and muscles, or things to reduce repeated motions that can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome or nerve damage will benefit a woodworker as far as future health and quality-of-life issues.” — Jennifer Hicks

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue.

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